Please tell us a bit about yourself and what led to your interest in computer graphics.
My name is Frank Dehu. I leave in France, near Paris.
I came to computers rather late. I started drawing as a kid, like most kids, and continued to enjoy it very much as I grew up. This period of traditional drawing turned out to be really helpful because it helped me to acquire fundamental knowledge on human anatomy, proportions, observation etc.
When I discovered computers, I quickly got fascinated by the possibilities, either for 2D or 3D. It’s a shame in a way because I gradually stopped traditional drawing from that moment. Anyway, I naturally evolved towards 3D, but beginnings weren’t easy. When you know nothing about 3D you might be really surprised, even disappointed at first: no “make Pixar” button! You have to learn the tool, and then you have to learn to be patient. But at the end, it’s rewarding. This 3rd dimension is really addicting.
Do you work fulltime in the computer graphics industry or is it a part time hobby?
I do work fulltime, but not in the computer graphics industry. I work for a software development company.
So far, CG belongs to my private sphere. I appreciate very much the moments that I can devote to it, and what I get from it, even if these moments are a not as frequent as I would wish. It’s important to have “quality” time to be productive, and you’re not always in the best shape when your CG day starts at 10pm... But when you achieve something nice, it’s always worth the effort.
Where do you find the inspiration for your artwork? Are there any artists or studios you admire?
The list of the artists whom I admire would be pretty big : it goes from the classical Dutch painters to Gary Larson…
In the middle, you could find the Pre-Raphaelites, Hans Bellmer (especially for his drawings), Frank Frazetta or Brom, and of course many artists on the current 2D and 3D scene, whose list would be long. I’m a big fan of Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera drawings for example.
All these artists can be a source of inspiration. Well, most of the things you look at have more or less an effect on your imagination, whether you want it or not. But those artists also act as a permanent incentive to create. Each time I look at a great image, it gives me a boost, a new impulsion.
So, where does inspiration comes from… The world around you, people you observe, funny situations give you the raw material from which you will combine, extrapolate, and create new material. Books and music are a great source of inspiration also. Music can set you in a mood that will trigger some nice ideas, and populate your mind with new images.
Please tell us a bit about you CG work. What is your favorite piece? How long have you been doing it? What aspect of it do you enjoy the most?
So far, my CG images have been done on a purely non-commercial basis. That has an undeniable advantage as i can do exactly what I want, without any constraint of time or directions, but the drawback is I can stop an image to start another one anytime a new idea comes to me. It does happen rather regularly, and can cause a consequent accumulation of works in progress…
I started 3D a few years ago. What I enjoy the most about it is the ability to “give life” to those characters that pop up in my mind. 3D gives the opportunity to make them concrete in a really nice way, share them with other people, and the best part of it : sometimes people will like them.
Another aspect of 3D that I enjoy is the way it changes your vision of the world. You look at things differently, starts to pay attention to the proportions and textures of the real life from the perspective of your 3D work. Sometimes it has a funny side-effect : reality is not always up to your standards ! For example, you can be standing in your garden, looking up at a “blank” winter sky, and think that the guy who made it has been really lazy on the texture…
Is there a particular piece of software you prefer to use for your artwork? Please explain why?
I started to use Cinema 4D as my main 3D application. From a hobbyist perspective, it made sense to choose it at the time. Learning curve is short and the price was attractive, compared to the main competitors. I’m not sure that the budget argument would still be valid nowadays. Anyway, it’s a very nice application, dedicated to the artist. As I said, the learning curve is short, you can feel comfortable and start producing pretty fast. On top of that, it’s very stable and has a nice set of modeling tools. For still images, it’s a great soft. One weak point would be the render engine, it’s nice but there’s room to improve it.
More recently I purchased ZBrush. It’s an incredible piece of software, which changes your way to do 3D. I just use a small part of its functionalities at the moment, and still have to seriously delve into it, but I already take great advantage of Zspheres for rapid base meshes production, and I enjoy the way it allows you to create high-res models in a totally natural way.
Please tell us about your CGSphere.com submission(s); what you like about it (them), and what you would like to improve.
The 2 images i submitted so far are revolving around characters. I guess its my favorite starting point : there is a sphere, but who will be “playing” with it ? So each time, it’s an opportunity to find a new location, with new characters, in different stories.
It’s what I like with the Convict. Even if his expression is on the edge of neutrality, the situation suggests different emotions or possible moods : to me he’s obviously unhappy to be chained to this huge ball, and breaking rocks is not the funniest way to spend time, but he already reached a state of resignation. Maybe he’ll be unchained soon…
For the Gang of Flies, it is another history. It’s quite clear that they are not people with whom you can joke. That’s a tiny bunch of gangsters, not the most dangerous ones, but sure they are fast and determined. The only thing is that they are not very smart. Sure they got hold of the honey pot, but they didn’t realize yet that it will be complicated to get away with it…
Please share with us what you like most about The Sphere Project, and what features you would like to see added.
Like most brilliant ideas, it is simple and comes with a great execution. I was surprised by how this project got quickly so popular, but it’s easily understandable: there were a lot of great quality images being posted, and anyone could join the fun. There’s nothing to win, no deadline, just the pleasure of finding a new idea and producing it the way you want to. The respect of the rules is a small constraint that makes it challenging, and if the visitors like your image, it’s the cherry on top of the cake.
If you could give any advice to other developing artists what would it be?
Take your time: time for observation, time to learn how to use your tool. At the end, you'll want to concentrate on your ideas and to focus on what you will do, instead of how you will do.